This Mental Health Awareness Week, Savera UK is highlighting the impact ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices can have on mental health. Often Savera UK clients experience trauma as a result of ongoing abuse, which can manifest in different ways.
As the result of a new partnership with Blackburne House, Savera UK is able to offer clients trauma therapy workshops. During the sessions, conducted over a 10 week period, clients learn about their trauma, understand its physical manifestations and practice methods of managing it.
Fiona, Lead Counsellor, explains because of the impact trauma can have on the body, much of the work they’re doing is physical.
She said: “It’s about feeling safer inside yourself. Trauma recovery works in stages. It’s very practical things we’re doing, like noticing muscle tension. All the work is physical, somatic work to give you the feeling of being in control and making your own choices. These exercises help develop different neural pathways.
“Our job is to provide the knowledge and skills so clients can go away and experiment and begin to notice ‘What does my body feel?’ ‘How is my breathing?’, ‘Am I in a state of distress?’. If you are, it’s key to notice it and interrupt it.”
Clare, a counsellor also leading the sessions, said: “We’re stimulating the nervous system into a chilled, relaxed state.”
Two sessions in with Savera UK clients, Fiona says they have already been laughing and “seem to be enjoying it”. Clare added: “When they’re all laughing they are making connections with each other, and it’s some of those things we don’t always appreciate.”
Fiona explains trauma is “grounded in neuroscience”. She said: “When you’re in trauma or distress you spend a lot of time in your body feeling panicky, you might not be sleeping or looking after yourself. This impacts your mental health, your decision making – it affects everything.”
Clare said: “By moving, doing something to the spinal cord and breath you’re activating the vagus nerve that shuts down when experiencing trauma.”
Because the threat of HBA and harmful practices can be lifelong, survivors may experience ongoing trauma over a long period of time, which can have different effects depending on if a person has been able to process it at the time, and can impact recovery.
Fiona said: “It’s about your history, so if you’ve had an adverse childhood experience as well as trauma as an adult it’s more complex. Different things happening over a period of time can also result in complex PTSD.”
The knowledge taken away from the sessions aren’t just helpful for clients, Fiona added, explaining “they can go home and teach their kids how to self-regulate”, “passing on these facts can be really important for kids”.
As well as the trauma therapy workshops, yoga teacher Nu from Blackburne House will be delivering trauma informed yoga sessions, which will help ease muscle tension and encourage reconnecting with the body in a calm state.
Thank you Fiona and Clare, we look forward to catching up with you both as your sessions progress!
If you are at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices, you can contact Savera UK’s helpline on 0800 107 0726.